Thousands of Italian fans made a pilgrimage to Autodromo di Vallelunga to see their idol Alberto Naska and the pure racing of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. The rookie gave his fans what they wanted to see: a stellar race win. Starting from Pole Position, the Italian defended the first place and led all 15 laps of EuroNASCAR 2 Round 5 to beat Vladimiros Tziortzis and Liam Hezemans in an amazing threeway battle for the win at the four kilometer long circuit close to Rome.
The CAAL Racing driver made a perfect start and defended his lead against the Cypriot in the #5 Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport EuroNASCAR FJ. Despite being put under pressure by the Valencia race winner all the time, Naska had a perfect run and survived a late restart to score his third win of the season. The Italian extended his championship lead over Hezemans to 17 points, while Tziortzis is third 20 points shy of Naska.
“You’ll never get used to the Victory Lane, never! It’s always like the first time and here, in front of all my fans in Italy, that’s the best feeling in the world! Especially in a race like this one where Tziortzis never gave up, I had to push from the first to the last lap and my feets were burning. Outside of the weather today, I can’t imagine tomorrow,” said Naska in front of his fans on the Victory Lane.
With another solid race, Tziortzis kept his championship hopes alive by scoring important points: the Cypriot crossed the finish line in second just 1.096 seconds behind Naska. Despite never letting Naska escape in the lead, Tziortzis was unable to find a way to get past the home race winner. Hezemans started fourth and made a brilliant move on the restart on lap 12 that was triggered by a violent accident of Alberto Panebianco, who climbed out of the car unharmed. Hezemans stormed to third to score his fourth podium finish of the season.
The Finn Tuomas Pontinen showed his great potential and finished fourth after running in the top-5 throughout the race in what was only his third NASCAR race. He completed the Rookie Trophy podium behind Naska and Hezemans. Melvin de Groot topped the Legend Trophy podium for drivers aged 40 and more in fifth for what was his second top-5 result of the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season. Christian Malcharek and reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek followed in sixth and seventh.
Aliyyah Koloc and Luli Del Castello had a blast of a race. The two Lady Trophy drivers were able to capitalize on the restart to put themselves in the top-10 for the first time in their careers with Del Castello eventually topping the Lady Trophy classification in 8th place. Aliyyah Koloc was ninth after she lost two positions in the closing stages of the race, but the Buggyra ZM Racing driver didn’t let her top-10 finish slip out of her hands.
Patrick Schober completed the top-10 with his second top-10 result of the season. Roberto Benedetti and Yevgen Sokolovskiy rounded out the Legend Trophy podium. The Italian also earned the bonus points for most positions gained after he was sent to the back of the grid for changing cars, while the Ukrainian got pushed wide in the last lap of the race and dropped down the order. Alina Loibnegger completed the Lady Trophy podium in 19th place.
The Saturday of a very successful and hot American Festival of Rome is in the books, but there are two more races coming up on Sunday. The day starts with the EuroNASCAR 2 gladiators back in action at 10:10 am CEST, while the EuroNASCAR PRO drivers will close the NASCAR GP Italy at 1:20 pm CEST. All races will be broadcast live on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and several TV services from around the world.